In recent months, I have read many sad, pitiful letters from believers who are still bound by sinful habits. Multitudes of struggling Christians write, “I can’t stop gambling… I’m in the grips of an alcohol addiction… I’m having an affair, and I can’t break it off… I’m a slave to pornography.” In letter after letter, these people say the same things. “I love Jesus, and I’ve begged God to free me. I’ve prayed, wept and sought godly counsel. I just can’t break free. What can I do?”

I’ve spent much time seeking the Lord for wisdom on how to answer these believers. I pray, “Lord, you know your children’s lives. Many are devoted, Spirit-filled saints, yet they don’t have your victory. They don’t know freedom. What’s going on?”

At one point, I studied the biblical passages containing God’s promises to his people. I was reminded that the Lord pledges to keep us from falling, to present us faultless, to justify us by faith, sanctify us by faith, keep us holy by faith. He promises that our old man is crucified by faith and that we are translated into his kingdom by faith.

The one thing common to all of these promises is this phrase: “by faith.” Indeed, all these things are matters of faith, according to God’s Word. So I came to the only clear conclusion about these struggling Christians’ problems; somewhere at the root of their bondage is unbelief. It all boils down to a simple lack of faith.

Are you struggling to gain victory by your willpower? Are you fighting the battle in your old nature? Paul points out, “Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt. But to him who does not work but believes on him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness” (Romans 4:4-5, NKJV).

Your victory must come not through weeping or striving but by faith that Jesus Christ has won the battle for you. Indeed, Paul says there is only one condition attached to God’s promises: “If indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard” (Colossians 1:23).

Christ surrendered everything to his Father in order to be a totally obedient Son. We are to do likewise. We are to be totally dependent on the Father, just as Christ was.